Courtesy of Anuta Research Center
The Menominee White Sox were a pioneer baseball team when the games were played at the old Menominee County Fairgrounds located in the vicinity of the Menominee High School and Central Elementary School campuses. The above photo shows the baseball attire of the age but doesn’t identify the names of the players. Most early-time area teams played with nine-man rosters. Some teams may of had more players but only a handful in number. Sandlot baseball came to the Twin Cities in the 1870s and well before organized football appeared in 1894.
Courtesy of Anuta Research Center

The Menominee White Sox were a pioneer baseball team when the games were played at the old Menominee County Fairgrounds located in the vicinity of the Menominee High School and Central Elementary School campuses. The above photo shows the baseball attire of the age but doesn’t identify the names of the players. Most early-time area teams played with nine-man rosters. Some teams may of had more players but only a handful in number. Sandlot baseball came to the Twin Cities in the 1870s and well before organized football appeared in 1894.

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The quality of baseball had improved dramatically from that memorable Fourth of July afternoon in 1871 to Wednesday, May 20, 1891, when a Marinette team took the field for its first game in the newly formed Wisconsin State Baseball League. It had been 20 years since what is believed to be the first recorded baseball outing in Peshtigo between two teams known as the “Shepherd’s” and the “Barnes.”

The Shepherd’s won 45-5. But the outcome and the score is not the important thing to remember. It’s the historic part of that game played on our nation’s birthday. It ushered in baseball in the tri-city area, which is no small matter when you compare it to the area’s first M&M football game played on Thanksgiving Day in 1891.

When Marinette was invited to join the six-team Wisconsin State Baseball League in 1891, local supporters jumped at the opportunity. Other teams in the circuit were Oconto, Green Bay, Appleton, Oshkosh and Fond du Lac. Arthur E. Mountain of Marinette was elected league president.

Team officials recruited a baseball enthusiast from Illinois, a man named Aydelott (no first name listed), to serve as the club’s field manager. Skipper Aydelott was highly regarded as a field manager and pitcher. The men behind the business segment of the Marinette franchise were serious about winning. They instructed Aydelott to scout and sign as many players as he could that played for him in Illinois the previous season.

Aydelott advised club officers that he believed he had players who were talented enough to compete in the new league, which was a highly regarded circuit from the outset of its organization. The manager had one other order from his bosses. He was instructed to sign local product Sam Stephenson, an outstanding player who was popular with the hometown fan base. Even in 1391, the pioneers of the game were looking for players who would attract fans to the ball park.

Fond du Lac had the distinction of launching the new-born league by hosting the first game with Marinette as its opponent. The City of Fond du Lac staged a pre-game parade to celebrate the occasion.

The parade was led by Company E of the Wisconsin National Guard. Officers of the Marinette and Fond du Lac baseball clubs rode in horse-driven carriages. The Fond du Lac Bicycle Club was an attraction with its display of cycles. A brass band thrilled the crowd along the route to the baseball park. Mayor Mayham of Fond du Lac welcomed a large crowd.

The home team won the first league outing with an 8-5 triumph. Other than the batteries for each team, details of the game were skimpy. McGinnis was the pitcher for Marinette and Martin worked behind the plate. Hughey pitched for the winners and Feeney was the catcher. 

Fond du Lac copped the second game on Thursday, winning 3-2. Player-Manager Aydelott worked the mound for Marinette. Martin was his catcher.

The three-game series ended on Friday with Marinette taking a 12-4 decision. Gates pitched for Marinette and prevented the host team from sweeping the series. The umpire was a man named Clayton who worked all three games. He was the only umpire on the field. In those years, the umpire stood behind the pitcher.

On Saturday, May 23 the Marinette team was given a welcome home reception as it prepared for its first encounter on its home field — Riverside Park — the following Tuesday against Appleton. The team was put up at the Dunlap House in the downtown district. 

The city had been planning for its first home game in the Wisconsin State Baseball League for some time. Most business places locked their doors for the afternoon game. A procession lined up on Dunlap Square at 2:30 p.m. and proceeded down Riverside Avenue to the ball park, which was located in the vicinity of the present-day Kimberly-Clark Paper Co. mill. 

The municipal band played the popular tunes of the day. Col. W.P. Greene, commander of the Marinette National Guard unit, marched in uniform behind the band. The Marinette Bicycle Club, members of the city council, league officials and club directors in carriages and the team’s fan base followed. 

Mayor Van Cleve was scheduled to throw out the first ball, but was unexpectedly summoned from the city. Arthur E. Mountain, president of the state league and a citizen of Marinette, filled in for the mayor. The crowd was estimated at 1,000.

Transportation accommodations to and from the park were a hardship for most would-be patrons, and most spectators had to circle the playing field in order to watch the action. 

With the preliminaries out of the way, the umpire called “Play Ball” at 3:45 p.m. For the next 90 minutes, the fans were treated to a game of baseball that saw Appleton spoil the local team’s home homer. The visitors won 11-3. Aydelott worked the mound for Marinette. 

Marinette didn’t disappoint their enthusiastic fan base in the second game. The local team, still without an official nickname, nipped the Appleton nine 5-2 behind the strong pitching of McGinnis. The rubber match in the series went to the visitors 8-2. Hagerman took the mound loss for the home team. 

By May 27, the league standings looked like this: Appleton 4-2; Oconto, Fond du Lac, Oshkosh and Green Bay were each 3-3; and Marinette was in last place with a 2-4 record.

It was early in the season, but the heads of the Marinette club knew at this point that they would have to scout better players and sign them if they were to be competitive in what was considered one of the top leagues in the state. They already were laying their plans to field a stronger team for the 1892 season. 

It was the beginning of top-level baseball in Marinette.